US Open: Rafael Nadal eases into last eight as Karolina Pliskova hammers Brady

Rafael Nadal waves to fans after winning his match against Alexandr Dolgopolov at the US Open in New York. Picture: AP/Jason Decrow.
Rafael Nadal waves to fans after winning his match against Alexandr Dolgopolov at the US Open in New York. Picture: AP/Jason Decrow.
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Rafael Nadal hit form at the US Open to stroll into the quarter-finals for the first time in four years.

The world number one had found the going tough at Flushing Meadows but the hottest day of the tournament so far saw Nadal spark into life.

Karolina Pliskova, on her way to US Open victory against Jennifer Brady in New York. AP/Jason Decrow.

Karolina Pliskova, on her way to US Open victory against Jennifer Brady in New York. AP/Jason Decrow.

It took him just an hour and 41 minutes to defeat Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-2 6-4 6-1 and set up a last-eight meeting with either ninth seed David Goffin or teenager Andrey Rublev.

The last time Nadal reached this stage in New York, he went on to win his second title, beating Novak Djokovic in the final.

“I think I played a solid match,” said the 31-year-old. “I played with not many mistakes. I know Dolgopolov is a player who can play amazing shots but sometimes he can be a little bit unpredictable

“He combines amazing points with mistakes. I’m in the quarter-finals in New York, that’s a positive result for me and I’m looking forward to trying to be playing better.”

I’m in the quarter-finals in New York, that’s a positive result for me and I’m looking forward to trying to be playing better.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal had struggled with his forehand and his return of serve in particular against Taro Daniel and Leonardo Mayer, losing the first set both times. But here those creases had been ironed out and he broke the Dolgopolov serve in the third game.

Most of the attention on the Ukrainian this tournament has been on the scrutiny he is under following match-fixing allegations surrounding a match in Winston-Salem two weeks ago.

But Dolgopolov, who insists he did nothing wrong, has not let that affect him on the court, and this was his first visit to the fourth round of a grand slam in six years.

He went into the clash knowing he had won two of his last three meetings with Nadal but struggled to make any impression on the Spaniard this time.

The second set was more competitive than the first but, once the top seed made the breakthrough, he did not look back.

Karolina Pliskova believes she is benefiting from her near miss after racing into the quarter-finals of the US Open.

After saving match point in her third-round meeting with Zhang Shuai, the world number one needed just 46 minutes to beat Jennifer Brady 6-1 6-0.

Pliskova rated the performance as one of her best matches of the year, and said: “I think because of this match (against Zhang) I felt like this today, that I went through this one.

“Sometimes you just need to have some of those matches where you can just really get through it. You don’t even know why, but the game improves so much.”